With all the questions surrounding the New York Knicks’ starting lineup, the answer is simple: Stick with what is proven. Mike Woodson should stick with the starting lineup that he used at the end of the 2012-13 season, which included point guards Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton.
Woodson has already guaranteed a starting spot for Felton, but may be straying away from the idea of starting the two point guards together.
However, he told ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley that he will not hesitate to go back to his small-ball lineup. "I know I can always go back to [a backcourt featuring point guards] Pablo [Prigioni] and Raymond [Felton]."
As Newsday's Al Iannazzone tweeted, Woodson may already be leaning toward starting his two point guards:
Pablo Prigioni has been playing with Felton the past two days so Woodson may start that way tomorrow.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) October 8, 2013
Woodson would be wise to keep his small-ball lineup intact. After all, the Knicks embarked on a 13-game winning streak toward the end of the season with Prigioni running the point. ESPNNewYork.com's Jared Zwerling touched on what the guard brings to the table:
When he took over at starting point guard in late March, the Knicks won 13 straight games. His full-court defensive pressure set the tone for the team, and his pick-and-roll playmaking was some of the most efficient in the NBA.
Having a pass-first point guard in Prigioni to pair with the aggressive Felton will provide better ball movement and give the Knicks another scoring option.
Begley believes the Knicks are a better passing team with Prigioni on the court:
When you're talking about Prigioni, it's worth noting that New York scored 5.2 more points per 100 possessions when Prigioni was on the floor last year. The Knicks' assist rate, or percentage of plays that ended with an assist, was 6.8 percent higher with Prigioni on the court.
With Prigioni running the point, Felton is free to play off the ball and attack the basket more often, as he is better-suited as a scorer than a pass-first point guard.
Just the threat of Felton attacking the hoop will help New York’s offense. With Felton driving the lane, he could draw an extra defender in the paint and has the option to finish at the rim or pass to an open teammate.
Prigioni and Felton have good chemistry when they are on the court together, as you can see in the video below:
As you can see, Felton usually brings the ball up the court in this set. He dishes to Prigioni and runs around screens to get open looks. If Felton knocks down his shots, this can be a lethal set for New York.
Prigioni also proved he is capable of knocking down shots. Last season, he averaged 3.5 points per game to go along with 3.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals. He posted a .455 field-goal percentage and a surprising .396 three-point percentage in only 16.2 minutes per game.
Prigioni may not be the same offensive threat as J.R. Smith, but he is a solid shooter capable of knocking down open shots.
The native Argentinian also fits in well next to Felton defensively. Felton is big for a point guard, which takes away from his ability to guard some of the league’s quicker point guards.
If Prigioni starts, he guards the opposing team’s point guard, while Felton can slide over and guard the 2. Prigioni is much quicker and takes a very cerebral approach on the defensive end.
Prigioni tends to jump into passing lines and create turnovers, which you can see below against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Prigioni came up with the steal and made the smart play to dish the ball to the trailing Smith. These kind of plays help win games and Prigioni excels at making them.
Should the Knicks start Pablo Prigioni alongside Raymond Felton?
Felton already has his starting job guaranteed. Prigioni's defense, three-point shooting ability and cerebral approach to the game fit in perfectly alongside Felton.
Woodson needs to make the right call and stick with the lineup that sent the Knicks on a 13-game winning streak at the end of the 2012-13 season.